Against the background of an enlarged European Union, when the gap between rich and poor regions will be positively yawning, social and economic cohesion will obviously be under the rake. The EU is not just a Single Market where the emphasis is solely on productivity and cut-throat competition. If it were, the challenge of enlargement could be viewed as a tremendous opportunity for the corporate sector, which is faced with the mouth-watering prospect of investing heavily in brownfield sites while drawing on a skilled workforce anxious to work and improve their lot. And yet the Treaty and, to an even greater extent, the Constitution in the making enshrine European citizenship as one of the cornerstones of democracy in a reunited Old World. With this in mind, the European Commission was duty-bound to recommend an ambitious regional policy reform that is conducive for narrowing the East/West development gaps as soon as possible, without succeeding, in one fell swoop, in depriving the pre-enlargement EU regions still struggling to catch up.

Michel Barnier, the architect of this project, is aware of the need to adopt a tactical approach to getting his views across. It is both fair and...

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